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Parents of Chained Boy in Court; Video of Typhoon Slamming Philippines; Toronto City Council Tries to Strip Mayor of Powers; Google, Microsoft Work to Get Rid of Child Porn; AHA Cholesterol Risk Calculator is Flawed

Aired November 18, 2013 - 11:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: When you hear what happened to an 11- year-old boy in North Carolina, chances are pretty good you'll be disgusted. A sheriff's deputy found him handcuffed by the ankle to a post on the front porch, a dead chicken hanging around his neck. The boy and four other adopted children were living in utter filth. This morning, the foster parents, one of them a Social Services worker, appeared in court.

And our Nick Valencia was there for the hearing. He joins me live from Monroe, North Carolina.

Give us the update, Nick. What happened in that courtroom?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Ashleigh. I was inside the courtroom for the first initial appearance. They said very little and showed little emotion. The only time they spoke was to say they wanted a court-appointed attorney because they didn't have the funds to hire their own attorney. Each is being held on about a $500,000 bond on multiple charges including child abuse.

I want to give you an update on the five kids. They were removed from Union County, put in the custody of Social Services. They were removed because of a conflict of interest, as we've been reporting. The woman, the adoptive mother in this case, Wanda Sue Larsen, is a supervisor at Social Services. And just to give you an idea how disgusted people are here locally with the conditions of the home, we showed up at the home yesterday. It was in squalid conditions. There was an overwhelming smell of urine and feces, piles and piles of garbage. Farm animals running wild. It was unlivable for animals. No family should be living in those conditions.

Earlier, I caught up with the aunt of the three of those kids inside the home and she talked to me about those conditions inside the home. Take a listen.


CINDY ROBBINS, AUNT OF 11-YEAR-OLD BOY: If you come to the table late, you're not allowed but half of your plate of food. Then you do not get the next meal. If you do not do your chores, or listen to her, then you do not get your meals that day. If you do not finish your schoolwork on time, then you're, therefore, not allowed to leave your room, and they were put inside their room and chained in there.


VALENCIA: During the investigation, sheriff's deputies spoke to the children inside that home and they said the 11-year-old was regularly handcuffed. There was a room where he was tied to a piece of railroad, handcuffed there on a customary base. Disgusting details emerging from this case -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: Nick Valencia for us live.

Thank you very much.

I want to bring in CNN legal analyst and defense attorney, Danny Cevallos.

Danny, when I look at those pictures of that home -- look, not every home is immaculate, but when you hear the descriptions inside and out of the filth and the odor and conditions, how is it you can have children, especially a foster child, living like that, because they're supposed to be checked on regularly?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What makes it worse, the fact they're foster children likely means the government came in, took them away from their original parents because those parents had a present inability to make these children safe and meet all their needs. So the sad irony is that they have been taken away and placed in foster care, which is designed to be temporary, it's designed to be safe, it's designed to be a respite from whatever they were going through living with their parents, until their parents either can get them back judiciously or they get adopted. So that's what makes this particularly bad.

As for oversight, there are social workers that are supposed to go out and visit. There are regular court dates where the judge looks at the status. However, the system simply doesn't have the finances to look after all of these children. It just doesn't.

For foster parents, they get reimbursed. There have been allegations, a lot of foster parents do this as a business. They get about $500 a month. You see foster parents with five or six kids. Many are doing the lord's work, doing noble work.

BANFIELD: Absolutely.

CEVALLOS: But on the other side, some sign up because they get a $500 check. You got five kids at the house. It's a payday.

BANFIELD: In this particular house -- I want to be so clear about it -- the other children were adopted. It's possible they had been foster prior to adoption. We don't know that at this point. But it's this one child in particular, who's the adopted child. And then I hear this is a supervisor at Social Services.

CEVALLOS: Amazing.

BANFIELD: Am I now to think that perhaps the social workers that do the checks maybe don't think that's such a bad environment?


BANFIELD: Is she's got that environment?

CEVALLOS: You know, you bring up a good point. What I'm about to say will sound terrible. But, on paper, when you look at these two individuals, as foster parents, one worked for the government, the one I believe was a nurse. On paper, at least, they're in the top 1 percentile of foster parents. A double-income family, that's pretty good. You have to wonder -- and this is just a guess -- it's just a guess, maybe they were able to use their social worker status to get by on some of the visits. But who knows.

BANFIELD: It's so distressing. Especially to hear this is a Social Services worker's home.

We'll wait to see what transpires in this case, but clearly so distressing.

Danny, thank you. Nice to see you, as always.

Stunning video showing the moment that the storm surge from the massive typhoon slammed into an island in the Philippines, and it goes right up over top over the roofs of the houses. Take a look. Imagine you're the one behind this camera, just for a moment. It just keeps coming. And, boy, did it leave massive destruction.

Karl Penhaul has a look from an aerial drone once the water subsided.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Look around you and imagine how it must have felt standing here on this street in Tacloban City as a towering wall of water raced in from the ocean.

But take a look. The pictures speak clearly for themselves.

Wherever you look, international organizations and government rescue teams are hard at work pulling away debris, still looking for bodies of the dead, trying to bring relief to the survivors.


BANFIELD: Again, our Karl Penhaul with that report.

And then there's this. The professional golfer on your screen, Jason Day, has come out and announced that eight of his family members were killed in Typhoon Haiyan. In a PGA tour statement, Day says his grandmother, uncle and six cousins died during that typhoon. His mother moved from the Philippines to Australia 30 years ago.





BANFIELD: Those are the screams of children you're hearing. Wild dash-cam video. Five kids in a minivan screaming as a police officer pounds a baton on their window. Then another opens fire as their mother drives the minivan away. The mother was pulled over for speeding while on a family vacation in northern New Mexico. But -- here's a big but -- took off, tried to get away twice during the ordeal, leading police on a high-speed chase until she and one of her teenage sons, who had actually rushed an officer, were arrested. The officers involved are also under investigation in this incident.

I want to warn you. This next video is difficult to watch.

You can see a man falling from the third deck of Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, New York. All of this during the second quarter of the Bills game against the Jets. He only injured his shoulder, luckily, but he landed on another man, who unfortunately had injured his head. And there's no update on that man's condition yet this morning.

Coming up, one of the Toronto city council members is going to join us live. All of this, as fellow council members prepare to try to strip the man in the middle of your screen from being able to run the city with anymore powers than he already has. Rob Ford, the scandal that just won't go away. Stay with us.


BANFIELD: If you are a regular CNN watcher, one thing you know we don't often do, that is go to the live city council, cameras of major cities like Toronto, Chicago, New York, L.A. But you know what? Toronto has changed everything. And now city council meetings are a must-see. We have one coming in about an hour or so. And that's where the counselors are planning to do, yet again, another strip job. That is trying to take powers away from their mayor, who's got a whole lot of problems and a very big mouth.

Joining me now, one of those councilors, Councilor Giorgio Mammoliti. He's live outside of council chambers.

Councilor, thank you for doing this live interview with us.

I have to ask you, the mayor has threatened, yet again, court action to stop you and your fellow colleagues from stripping him of his waning powers. Can he? Do you think he will? Are a lot of these empty promises or anything else you'd like to report from this very strange evolving show?

GIORGIO MAMMOLITI, TORONTO CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Well, thank you very much for having me, Ashleigh. I appreciate it.

I take a bit of a different approach. While I know that the mayor has gone a little bonkers lately, and I know that his mouth should not be where it is, I also believe in democracy, and I think what we're doing will change the flavor of democracy in Toronto, anyway, for the next 100 years. What we're attempting to do is strip the mayor from his powers. And I know why people are trying to do that. I've taken the position that the mayor is ill. And I will be taking a further position this afternoon asking for a doctor's letter, a simple doctor's letter that says he capable of doing his job. Just like would ask any employee of any organization or corporation, because I believe he's sick, and I think that he needs time off. And I'm going to treat it as such and continue to do so. I cannot move in a direction that's anti-democratic and probably illegal, in this particular respect. There's one level of government that can do this legally. It would be the provincial level that we have here, similar to your state. And they're the ones that should come in, step in, and do the dirty work, if that's what they want.

BANFIELD: So let me add -- I got a lot of questions but only a minute left. Number one, are you the only person asking for this doctor's letter and is that another thing that essentially has no teeth? Number two, it's the mayor and his brother saying this is the third- world stripping of democracy, of democratic powers to take his powers away. And, number three, are you going to go to the province? That's the problem. Council doesn't want to take to the level of any --


MAMMOLITI: That's the motion what should have happened to begin with, in my opinion, if people really wanted to do this. Instead, it's turned into a circus. And I think that the mayor would owe those of us on the executive, the administration that particular doctor's letter as well. If they want us to continue on with the administration that he wants to head up, he needs to prove to us that he's fit and able to do that.

And if you can defer this motion, if you can -- in other words, wait until next month, until that letter surfaces, I think everybody would be satisfied, including myself.

So I hope I can garnish enough support. And by the way, we were returning the city anyway with the executive, and we have a very capable deputy mayor. We didn't have to transfer budgets and, you know, kind of strip the mayor of everything as their proposing. We could have done this without the international flavor, so to speak.

BANFIELD: I hear you.

MAMMOLITI: That's the position I hold.

BANFIELD: Yeah. As a proud Canadian-American, I'm so embarrassed to have to bring this story to Americans on a regular basis.


BANFIELD: Counselor Mammoliti, thanks for being with us. Keep us updated and let's hope for a safe and healthy resolution to this problem.

Thank you, sir.

MAMMOLITI: Ashleigh, we're proud of you as well. Thank you.

BANFIELD: Ah, you're a sweetheart. Thanks so much.

Coming up, we've got another big story we've been following. This one very distressing. However, there may be a silver lining. Child porn hidden among hundreds of thousands of web pages in at least 150 languages, and Google and Microsoft are saying, that's it. And they're doing something to get rid of it. You'll find out what, next.


BANFIELD: All right. This is one of those stories I like to bring to you. Google and Microsoft taking big steps and really astounding steps together for a just cause, and that's keeping some of the most disgusting content off the Internet -- child pornography. They're trying to get rid of the images all together and they're also making sure that common searches for child give you a great big warning, like don't.

CNN's Money Tech correspondence, Laurie Segall, joins me now.

First of all, I'm so blown away by what these two companies are doing. They're not just looking for search teams, they're looking at the video. Somehow they've got some kind of digital algorithm that can determine when a video is inappropriate.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY, MONEY TECH CORRESPONDENT: They've got engineers from YouTube working on this. They also -- Microsoft has something called photo DNA. They can access, using a tech algorithm, look at an image and say this is likely to be an illegal image. I spoke to Facebook. They're using the same kind of technology. Google has had a team of 2000 employees working on this search algorithm for the last three months.

What it does is it will essentially block -- if you're and typing in things that might yield child pornography, it will essentially block you from doing that, and you'll get an image. We have the image. You'll get a result that will say something like, "This is illegal." You're looking at it right there. "Protecting children from sexual abuse."


SEGALL: And you know, almost as a bit of a warning sign, hey, stop doing this because we are watching you.

BANFIELD: P.S., when you get that warning, are you also -- your info is being sent straight to the police, like how dare you?

Is so illegal to be looking?

SEGALL: First of all, these tech companies, first of all, it's a big deal that they are coming together. Microsoft and Google, these guys go head to head all the time, but they're coming together and saying, look, this is a big problem, we have to work with law enforcement. We did a piece on pimps recruiting women on Facebook. You better bet that they're handing over a lot of information to law enforcement.

BANFIELD: Yeah, don't think you're so anonymous out there.

Laurie Segall, thank you.

It's so fascinating to think they can actually do that, assess images in that way.

Laurie Segall doing the job for us live today.

Another big story we're following as well, some brand new drug guidelines, all meant to prevent strokes and heart attacks. Apparently, weren't exactly -- well, how do we say this? They're being revised, trying to clear up the confusion over who really needs to take statins and how to calculate correctly whether you would be a candidate. That's coming up next.


BANFIELD: A brand new tool to help people determine how risky their cholesterol levels might be is a little rickety it might seem. Some doctors are saying the risk calculator, just unveiled last week to help them figure it out, is flawed.

Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins me now.

What? How did this happen?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I know. I know. Now it's a point of contention. Some doctors at Harvard and other places are saying this calculator tells people who don't need statins that they do, and it tells people that do need statins that they don't.

BANFIELD: All of that could be lethal.

COHEN: It's not great. You don't want that to happen.

The American Heart Association just had a press conference and they said, no, our calculator is totally fine.

But I'll tell you, I got on the phone with a doctor within the AHA, within the Heart Association, high up, instrumental in this process, and he said, Elizabeth, I can't vouch for this algorithm.


COHEN: I think it needs to be re-evaluated. So there seems to be disagreement even within the Heart Association about how good this calculator is.

BANFIELD: While they're trying to figure it out, is it at least offline? Have they taken it down, offline, so everybody is not logging on and doing this?

COHEN: The bottom line of what you need to do is you need to go to your doctor and you need to say, look, what are my cholesterol numbers and what's my personal profile? Do I have high blood pressure, diabetes? And then you need to make a decision from there. So you don't have to rely on the calculator. You make a decision with your doctor. What are my numbers? What's my personal history? What is my family history? And make a decision from there.

BANFIELD: So what you're saying is being an empowered patient.


COHEN: That is exactly what I'm saying. That is what I'm saying.

BANFIELD: Nicely done. Get it in there.


Push your book, "Empowered Patient," great reading.

Thank you, Elizabeth Cohen.

COHEN: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Always good to see you. Thanks so much.

And thank you, everyone, for joining us. It's been nice to have you with us. We're continuing to watch Toronto live. That city council meeting will be taken live by CNN.

In the meantime, I'm going to pass you on to AROUND THE WORLD, which starts now.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Toronto terror in the nation's heartland. That is where we begin this hour of AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Michael Holmes is off today.

I want to talk about this. This is neighborhoods flattened. Lives shattered. At least six people confirmed dead after this powerful storm is ripping through the Midwest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's on the ground! It's on the ground!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, they kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.